We have to hide out for 4 days because of Carnival. It's nuts in town. People are in wigs and masks and weird costumes and they have water balloons, water guns, and shaving cream. The other day we were sitting on a bench waiting for service meeting (in the rain all pathetic like) and 4 teenagers doused us in shaving cream. And that wasn't even actually Carnival- they were just getting warmed up. They do some pretty nasty stuff during this time and we were told that it would be safest if we hid. So that is what we are doing.
We thought it would be fun to fill you in about what service is like here. We aren't saying anything on this list is good or bad, just a list of things that are different than what we are used it.
1. Service Meetings
The service meeting is usually at 8:30am in someone's house or in a Plaza. Lots of people walk in super late because everyone has to literally walk there (30 people met yesterday for service!). The service meeting is a brother who talks about a scriptural subject (so far they've all been super original and we were impressed) and then he asks someone to pray. THEN he assigns people to work together- but just pairs. Then the pairs are organized into groups of 8 who are under the direction of a brother in the group (only brothers have territories). Your group then walks to the territory. It feels like all of this lasts 30 minutes. Everyone does door to door during this time. No one has studies in the mornings
2. The amount of service time you get (or really that you don't get...)
The other day I got 4 hours of service and had to work my booty off for it. The days we can go out we average about 2 hours.
Sundays there are service meetings at 3pm. No service Mondays. Tuesday-Saturday there are service meetings at 8:30. Those groups usually work straight door to door until sometime between 10:30-11:30 (remember you don't get to the actual territory until 9). Then they are done for the day unless they have prearranged studies or return visits.
Thursdays are special and have 3 service meetings. They have the regular one at 8:30pm, then another at 2:30pm (only a couple hours) and another at 6pm.
We really like the idea of Thursdays for long days but remember- Sucre is all hills and high elevation and you are constantly walking. So after a couple hours of service you are tired. For instance yesterday from the house to the territory was over a mile all uphill (of course we leave Pullman for a place with steeper hills). You get a bit of a break in between service meetings on Thursdays but it requires a lot of stamina.
Eventually we'll have Studies that will help us to stretch our time. Plus we were told that February is the worst month weather wise so it can only go up!
3. You only place one magazine at a door- not sets. Not sure why, possibly a shortage and because everyone who you talk to will accept something.
4. We haven't really seen how return visits work yet; right now it looks like they just do regular return visits when they are in the territory the next time around because its not like they can drive all around town to their spread out rvs. One sister had her own magazine route and was super cute. She had stacks of this months magazines with sticky notes on each set with a person's name on them. Probably dozens.
5. No one takes coffee breaks- that's pretty nice.
6. I actually like business territory here a lot more than compared to the States. Shop owners generally don't care of other customers walk in while you are talking and they are willing to sit and have a conversation with you about what you are sharing. It's not awkward and they aren't pretending to smile because they don't want to lose your business. We can share a scripture and have real life return visits with them. We've seen shop owners that have their bible study in their shop regularly. (Made me think of Christine Virtue)
7. People witness to and have return visits and Bible studies with young children- like elementary school age kids. In the states parents generally freak out if you talk to their kids when they aren't home. Here they ask if the parents are home, if they say no they just go into their presentation! It is the cutest. There are 2 presentations I have regularly heard for kids and I'll do the English version for you:
Sister: Do you know what God's name is?
Kid: Ummm Jesus?
Sister: Read this scripture in Isaiah 42:8 What is God's name?
Sister: So do you pray regularly?
Sister: Do you pray or do you recite the Lord's prayer?
Kid: The Lord's Prayer
Sister: The difference between reciting something and praying to God is that praying implies you are conversing with God- and if you use his name in your prayers do you know what benefit there is?
Sister: Read Romans 10:13.. Do you want to be destroyed or to be saved? (things in spanish are a lot bolder but kids aren't scared by it)
Kid: Saved! hahahaha
Or this one
Sister: What does God command of children?
Kid: I don't know..
Sister: Read Ephesians 6:1-3... So what does God want you to be?
Sister: And how are you supposed to treat your parents?
(Then they go into a cute discussion about what it means to honor your parents- Respect, don't lie or deceive, do your homework when they tell you to etc. It is super adorable.)
Sister: And what does it mean for you?
Kid: Live a long life on the earth!
Then the sister give the kid the magazines and makes them promise not to beat them up or rip them.
8. When 2 witnesses are at the door- the one not talking doesn't pay attention AT ALL!! They will read their magazine, look at their phone, or even (once) walk off to use the bathroom in an empty lot.
9. You see people peeing regularly. Young and old.
10. Dogs are everywhere and not neutered or spayed. They are people's pets that they just let run around the streets while they are at work. They look super pathetic after the rain. Depending on who you talk to, you should either be terrified of them or you are perfectly safe. There's no happy middle.
11. We found out a good reason people don't go out when it is raining is because of the mud.
12. There is no discretion. It is all spectacle here. Sometimes there will be 2 people at a door and the rest of the group (8 people) just chatting just a few feet away- laughing and having a great time. OR sometimes 2 groups will collide at a door (they work house over house) and 4 people will just be waiting at a door and talking to each other.
13. No one keeps not at homes. Sometimes if there isnt anyone home they will slide a letter with a tract under the door.
14. Everyone asks for a donation after the presentation and they usually get lots even though most of the householders are poor.
15. Nearly all of the Need Greaters in our hall speak French... We almost need to learn a third language to communicate to everyone
This section of town is called 'America'
At the edge
We went shopping today and we would like your ideas for what food to make. We only have an oven, a microwave, and a stove. No pans for the oven- just a flat sheet that is really a shelf in it. No mixing or measuring tools. Just a couple of pots and pans and dishes for eating.
Put on your thinking caps!
Ingredients: dinner rolls, green beans, eggs, lime, tomato, broccoli, carrots, green peppers, milk (it comes in weird bags here... ), peach yogurt, soy sauce, evaporated milk, ketchup, strawberry jelly, butter, tomato sauce, garlic, spaghetti noodles (cook weird here...), white rice, and some mozzerella and cheddar (that was expensive and tastes super funky and doesnt melt like normal cheese...), potatoes, chicken broth, sugar, salt, ground pepper (tasteless), ground oregano (also tasteless), oil (pretty sure its some sort of soy oil, its what they had), and balsalmic vinegar.
So far we've figured out garlic bread (eat it regularly with cheese melted on top), spaghetti (not great- noodles cook mushy), breakfast sandwiches (not big fans of eggs), and stir fry (dinner tonight)
BTW our stove somehow doesnt know how to simmer things- makes rice really difficult.
Suggestions?! We will be stuck in the house for days and need to eat something with flavor-- everything here is super bland.
Every night we have cookies and tea. Our only splurge in life